Blueberries demand just the right climate and planting soil, but take very little care if you provide the conditions they like. They are extremely hardy, but need a fair amount of winter chill and will not grow well in mild winter climates. Making growing them perfect for growing in the valley! Blueberries like soil rich in organic material such as peat, and very acidic but extremely well drained. Soils such as these are usual in areas of high rainfall, which is lucky, since the berries need constant moisture, even though they will not tolerate standing water.
THE RULE OF 2...OR 3
Blueberries require cross-pollination (the flying of bees from the flowers of one variety of blueberry to the flowers of another) in order to actually produce berries. For this reason you will require a minimum of 2 DIFFERENT TYPES of blueberries to get fruit. We recommend getting 3 different varieties if it is in your budget and you have the space. This is because sometimes certain blueberries won't have the best overlapping of flowering times if there is weird weather and therefore will have reduced cross pollination. The more varieties you have the longer longer the flowering times will overlap and you will give the bees more time to cross pollinate the flowers thereby giving you a better harvest.
***The exception to this rule is if you choose one of the newer self-pollinating varieties such as Perpetua. These newer self pollinating varieties are able to pollinate themselves and are ideal for situations where you only have room for one plant.***
Soil must be both acidic and well drained. You will have to plant in raised beds if there is any chance of water standing around roots for even a day.
For both drainage and acidification, add large amounts of peat moss or other organic material to the planting soil; up to ¾ peat moss by volume for soils that tend to be heavy. Never add manure; it is alkaline.
Dig the planting hole somewhat wider and deeper than the root ball of the young plant. Never cramp the roots into a small hole. Spread them in a wide hole and press soil firmly over them. Space high-bush blueberry plants about 4 feet apart, and plant them at the same soil level as they were in their pot.
Do not feed plants the first year. In succeeding years, use aluminum sulfate or any commercial fertilizer prepared for azaleas, or rhododendrons.
Benefits Of Pruning Blueberries:
- Maintains an open growth habit, which improves air circulation, opens the center of the plant to sunlight, and reduces disease.
- Annual pruning helps keep the plants producing berries by encouraging the growth of new fruit-producing stems.
- Pruning removes dead or damaged branches.
- Pruning increases fruit quality because the shrub is able to put more energy into producing the fruit, not more leaves.
The goal of blueberry pruning is to remove enough old growth to encourage the production of new. And to do so without negatively impacting the berry production for the coming season.
Leave the plants alone for two or three seasons, trimming only crossing/rubbing branches or broken twigs.
After 2-3 seasons you can start removing 1/3 of the canes you have left once you have removed all the crossing/rubbing branches/broken twigs. Cut out the oldest/weakest/most unhealthy looking branches when choosing your 1/3. This will ensure you keep having new young stems forming.
With bushes that you have not pruned for a number of years remove 1/2 instead of 1/3 of the branches. Then in following years remove a few of the older branches until the plant starts to produce lots of new young growth again.
If you never prune, you will still get fruit but it will be small, and eventually decline in quantity. If you don't prune annually it will take longer for the bush to decide to produce more new shoots in between prunings.
Pruning is best done in late Februrary-early March as the plant is still dormant and it is much easier to see the shape of the plant when it is not covered in leaves.
PESTS & DISEASES
Blueberries suffer from very few difficulties, but birds, chipmunks and squirrels can decimate the berries in just a few hours. Surround the blueberry bush with four stakes, hammered 6 inches into the ground, so they make the corners of a box with the bush in the center. Set the stakes at least 6 inches away from the bush so the netting won't touch the bush's sides once it's installed over the stakes. Use stakes at least 12 inches taller than the blueberry bush so that they stand 6 inches taller than the bush, once installed. Drape the bird netting over the top of the stakes. Select netting with small holes to exclude smaller birds and small mammals. The netting should not rest on the bushes themselves, otherwise the birds can access the ripening berries through the net openings. Anchor the edges of the netting to the ground with a mound of soil or rocks so that birds and animals cannot crawl beneath the netting. Use scare devices to frighten away small mammals that may chew through netting. Motion-activated sprinklers, bird tape, hanging old cds, or other moving lawn ornaments startle animals if they come near the bushes. Harvest blueberries as soon as they ripen so that animals don't have a chance to raid the planting.
Popular Blueberry Varieties
When choosing your blueberry varieties it is always good to choose ones from different ripening seasons. This ensures you will have blueberries to snack on for longer throughout the summer months.
The most widely planted early ripening northern variety. Heavy, consistent yield with an attractive, firm, light blue, high quality berry. Duke blooms late but ripens early which protects the blossoms from spring frosts. Branches may droop to the ground when laden with fruit, and requires the use a simple trellis as support. Fall foliage is orange-yellow blooming in white during the spring.
Early-season harvest of large, aromatic, tasty fruit. Patriot is a superb variety for both container and landscape use. Low 3-5 feet bushes have attractive open, spreading habit with fiery red to orange foliage in the fall. It's cold-hardy and widely adaptable.
Early varieties usually produce medium size fruit, but Spartan's is very large and abundant. The bush is tall and upright, which benefits the overall ripening of the berries because of air circulation and sun penetration into the plants canopy.
Growing 4-6 feet high with an upright, open habit, Bluecrop is generally considered the best all-around variety for adaptability, long production period, good fruit yield and disease resistance. Large berries have that classic sweet taste one associates with blueberries. Bluecrop grows well in zones 4-7 and displays red fall coloring.
Plump, powder-blue, medium to large berries boast remarkable flavor with raspberry accents; perfect for fresh-eating, baking, and jams. Hardy 5-6’ plants produce generous yields of berries that ripen in mid-season over several weeks; puts on a pretty show of distinctive creamy flowers. Canes’ orange-red autumn hues make for ornamental displays.
Medium to large blueberries with high sugar content. This Native American variety ripens in July and yields heavily for weeks. Plant with at least two other blueberry varieties to ensure adequate cross-pollination. The 5-6' tall bushes become a blaze of crimson in the fall, so they are ideal arranged as an informal hedge.
Northland is the most cold-hardy Highbush variety. It is easy to grow and adaptable to many different soil types. The berries are excellent for jams and baking because of their high sugar content. The bright yellow wood and compact shape makes Northland a good candidate for landscaping.
Garden variety standard with late season harvest. This old, reliable variety has medium-sized berries that ripen in late season and are superb for baking. Easy-to-grow, vigorous plants make wonderful upright hedges, growing to 6-8 feet high. Foliage turns flaming orange in the fall.
Superior Blueberry Bush is a late ripening blueberry with a balanced flavor and firm fruit. After harvest the foliage will take on dramatic shades of red, yellow, orange, and maroon. Blueberries are somewhat self-fertile. Plant two varieties for greater fruit production.
One of the newer blueberries out there. It is self pollinating. It is also known for the fact that it has multiple crops throughout the season meaning you can get more out of the one plant.
To check out all the varieties we currently have in stock click here.
Share this post
- Tags: Blueberries